Just 24 hours after the Rudy-less and shorthanded Grizzlies got thumped in Oklahoma City on national television, they beat the Washington Wizards 85-76 Friday night before one of the smallest crowds of the season at FedExForum.
While fans and media have been debating all the Grizzlies’ changes under new ownership — the trade with Cleveland that sent out three players and a protected first-round draft pick, and the anticipated but still shocking trade of Rudy Gay to Toronto — those on the inside have turned the page because that’s what professional players and coaches have to do.
“We won,” coach Lionel Hollins said when asked his reaction to Friday’s game with several new players. “I’m happy.”
The most recognizable name and face in the contingent coming to the Grizzlies — 11-year Detroit Pistons veteran Tayshaun Prince — introduced himself to Memphis with 14 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting performance. He moved within the flow of the offense and defense like he’d been here two months, not two minutes.
“Marc Gasol was directing me every time Mike (Conley) called a play and that helped,” Prince said. “It was tough, but I tried to keep it as simple as possible for the first game.”
All of the change has been tough on the entire team but Conley, who had a game-high 18 points, said he felt a bit of normalcy returning on Friday night; the victory improved their record to 30-16.
“We’re not all the way there,” Conley said. “We’re just now coming out of the smoke, the haze of that trade. But tonight, for the most part, it felt like we were back.”
The Grizzlies’ next game is at home, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, against the Phoenix Suns.